“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

AWARD--Honest_Weblog_Award

Me? Seriously? You Shouldn’t Have But I’m Glad That You Did

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

This is a little late in coming, but I would like to thank Zirgar for bestowing upon me the Honest Weblog Award. I have been told by several people that one of the better qualities of my writing is its honesty; I know that I do write from my heart, which is not always a good thing, I realize, but it is my way of being true to myself. So many thanks Z and all of the other wonderful regular readers who stop by here to read and sometimes comment.

Chesapeake Bay
End of the Day, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

As we all know, no award comes without a few strings, and the Honest Weblog Award is no exception. Here are the rules: 

  1. You must brag about the award.
  2. You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to that blogger.
  3. You must choose a minimum of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
  4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Weblog Award.
  5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

Then pass along the award with the above instructions.

Top Seven

So here are the blogs to which I have chosen to pass along the Honest Weblog Award. The blogs are listed in no particular order, and their content is as varied as their owners. I try to visit these blogs daily or as often as possible, and my interest in each of them is evidenced by the fact that you can find them listed under the different categories of blogrolls to the left of my site.

  1. White Orchid: This blog is written by one of my dear online friends, Maureen, who lives in Australia. Maureen’s blog covers a wide range of topics—family, friends, work, Australian politics, and much more. Maureen has a very loyal group of followers, and she is diligent about responding to comments and e-mails.
  2. Supersense: Written by Bruce M. Hood, the Director of the  Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol in England. Bruce recently published Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable, an incredible book that I found immensely enjoyable and informative (I promise that I’ll get around to posting my review soon). Part of what makes Bruce’s blog so interesting is the comment section: His regulars are a diverse bunch with very strong opinions.
  3. Floridana Alaskiana v2.5: This blog is written by Janson Jones, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. If you appreciate fine photography, then you definitely need to visit this blog. Janson, who recently celebrated the birth of his daughter Aurelia, fills his posts with beautiful images of landscapes, wildlife, and people. He also comments occasionally on political issues in which he is interested.
  4. Islamorada Florida by JJ
    Islamorada, Florida by Janson Jones
  5. My Sweetest Downfall: This pseudonymous blog is beautifully written by a woman with incredible wit and enough sarcasm to keep me entertained. She doesn’t post daily, but the content of her posts makes up for the wait between. I think that what I probably enjoy most about JaneyLynn’s blog is that I can totally relate to it, to the craziness of her life, and to her occasional funks.
  6. Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezins: Zirgar, who presented me with this award, describes his blog as “a place to vent and find catharsis.” Very left of center, Z takes on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the whole Fox circus, as well as most far-right politicians and politicos. Be warned, he doesn’t censor himself, so if you are offended easily, then this isn’t the blog for you. That being said, I greatly enjoy his rants and screeds on closed-minded racists and bigots, as well as the regulars who comment on his posts. Very glad I found this particular blog, and many thanks again Zirgar for remembering me.
  7. Leaving Lilac Sky: Another pseudonymous blog written by a very talented poet. I have been following this writer’s blog for almost a year now. As with most poets, she has her dry spells, and then she goes into periods in which she is incredibly prolific, turning out a poem a day. A confessional poet, her poems deal with heart-rending emotions, but at the same time, she celebrates life.
  8. Willpen’s World: This is another blog that I have been following regularly since I began blogging last year. Another kindred political spirit, WP is not afraid to voice her opinions about the state of affairs in this country. Worth noting: Several of the blogs that I now read regularly I found through the comments section of WP’s blog.

A few honorable mentions: November Fifth (intelligent, articulate, and a college-level English prof), Really . . . Really . . . Seriously (music and movies), David Bridger (writer with a lot to say about writing, life, and lots of other things). There are a few other blogs that I read as much as possible, but these are the highlights.

Ten Honest Things About Myself

  1. I am hypersensitive, although I try very hard not to be. Just how sensitive I am depends upon the state of my life, which means that currently, I can tear up upon hearing a song or watcing a commercial.
  2. I believe in reincarnation. I know that this is not logical (Bruce), but it is something that I have felt very strongly about since I was very young. No, I was not Marie Antoinette, but my affinity for and knowledge of things that I don’t have a logical reason for knowing has to come from somewhere.
  3. I was a daddy’s girl. As an only child, I was spoiled, and my dad labeled me as a “Want-Whiney” when I was a little girl. If I am to be completely honest, the label still applies. 

    Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay
    Catamaran on the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
  4. I love to wear boots, long skirts and sweaters. I should probably live in a cooler climate as this is how I would clad myself everyday if I had somewhere to be.
  5. My biggest personal regret is not going for my doctorate in English.
  6. I am a collector: books, stuffed bears, boots, office supplies, and watches probably being the top five.
  7. I don’t do things half way. It’s either all in or nothing.
  8. I have become too much of a recluse in the past two years, and I really need to get out of the house more.
  9. I love words. I love to find new quotes by writers I have been reading for years. I love to find new writers. I love to put words together and push them around until I have created something of which I can be proud.
  10. I love the man who has been the biggest part of my life for the past 10 years unconditionally and completely, and my children are my joy. Never try to come between me and my family.

Okay, a couple of other tidbits: I am not afraid of spiders, but am terrified of snakes and centipedes. I love the colors red, black and purple. I really enjoy nature: backyard birding, mountains, waterfalls, and sunrises and sunsets. I am very insecure about the way that I look. I do not have tons of friends, rather, a select few. I love them and miss them every single day, and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for one of my friends.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” ~ Lionel Hampton

So, gentle reader, this ends my conferring of the Honest Weblog Award upon some of my favorite online sites. I hope that you take the time to visit a few of these worthwhile and diverse sites.

More later. Peace.

Brutal Honesty in the face of Inane Lunacy

 We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

 We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine . . .

  

And our friends are all on board,

Many more of them live next door

To those of you who care, I know that I have been lax in my blogging of late. It comes from being a teenager and passing along teenage angst and teenage idiocy to said teenagers’ mumsy. That I can still string sentences together on the approaching graduation of elder son and end of the year IB work of younger son speaks volumes of my ability to have courage under fire.

That being said, I decided that I would dedicate my afternoon to catching up on reading my blogrolls as I have been waiting eagerly for new posts on some of my favorite blogs and haven’t had time to peruse them. What’s wonderful about belonging to a blogging community is that you get the chance to stay on top of things all over the world. For example, my friend in Australia not only writes about her life, but she also shares political and social information. One blog is by a researcher in the UK who is a newly-published author, and the conversations that ensue on his blog are always enlightening and simultaneously hilarious.

Of course, a visit to Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana made my day as he has been updating his blog with photographs of his recent trip to Florida. I plan to do a feature post on these beautiful images in a few days, but feel free to visit his blog and check out his masterful photographic skills.

Dropped by White Orchid where my lovely Australian friend has been updating everyone on the loss of her poor aunt and the travails of traveling to a funeral. Maureen’s writing is always so inviting that it’s as if we are sitting at the table together sharing a cup of tea.

And then I made the usual rounds to everyone else, but what really caught my interest today were the posts that I read on three of my favorite left-leaning political blogs: Willpen’s World, Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezin’s, and The Mudflats.

During the 08 election, I spent most of my time writing about political topics, especially the fractured logic that seems to rule the far right, but once Obama was elected and we took back the Senate, I have tried to go back to writing about various topics, from my dogs, to my kids, to photography, to poverty, with stops in between on important issues that I feel I must answer in some way. After reading several of today’s posts and articles, I decided that today was one of those days on which I needed to focus on issues that won’t go away and the people who continue to beat the carcass of the horse that has been on America’s front lawn for about three decades.

Perhaps the best theme for my post would be Ship of Fools, but I decided to use another one of my old favorites: The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”

And the band begins to play (cue horns)

Ultimately, I felt that I just had to do a Lola’s List of Brutally Honest Observations. Let the finger-pointing begin: 

Finger PointingLet me not beat around the bush about this: Rush Limbaugh is a racist, sexist, anti-abortion, far-right conservative Republican. However, that does not qualify him for the Supreme Court, no matter how much he spouts off about Obama’s nominee. Rush needs a gentle reminder that one must have a law degree at the very minimum to sit on the highest court in the land, and unfortunately, or in this case, fortunately, Rush failed ballroom dancing. 

Michele Bachmann (of the one l) is still running around the halls of the Capitol making outrageous claims about subjects of which she has absolutely no knowledge, or at least, not knowledge in the traditional sense (you know, book learning and knowing when to get out of the rain kind of knowledge).  I’m not even going to touch the fallacies in her pronouncements about carbon dioxide being a natural product of the earth (even though I could go on for pages about natural products of the earth that, while they are natural, are also harmful and deadly, like arsenic). My suggestion to the Minnesota Congresswoman is that she go buy herself about 10 more truckloads of Mountain Dew so that she can keep C-Span electrified with her stand-up routine. What’s that? She’s serious? No really? Really . . . Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Sarah Palin’s running mate in 2012. 

Bill O’Reilly . . . what can I say? For years the man carried on a personal war with Dr. George Tiller, the doctor who was recently murdered while serving as an usher at his church’s Sunday services, the doctor who was murdered by a fanatic, the likes of whom I will address my next remarks. But let’s get back to Bill, shall we? Over the years, O’Reilly has vilified Tiller with statements such as [Tiller] “destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000.” 

O’Reilly has also compared Tiller of being guilty of  “Nazi stuff” (June 8, 2005). The snarky pundit also said in June of 2007 that there was “No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands.” O’Reilly did not put the gun in Scott Roeder’s hands, but O’Reilly did mark George Tiller as “Tiller the Baby Killer” again and again and again. This self-serving spewer of vitriol bears the burden of placing a target on George Tiller’s chest.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
 

To Sean “The Manatee” Hannity I offer the following advice: Please go to an ENT sooner rather than later so that you can get your hearing checked. It’s just becoming a drinking game now to see how many times you can misconstrue the words on a television clip featuring President Obama or any other liberal. For example, on June 3 of this year, you had the stones to claim that President Obama called the U.S. a Muslim nation when he addressed representatives of the Turkish government on April 6. Here is what President Obama actually said as compared to your interpretation 

President Obama: If you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.

Sean Hannity: He honors the national day of prayer behind closed doors. Now, on his Middle East apology tour, the President calls the U.S. a “Muslim nation.”

President Obama: We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens, who are bound by ideals

Sean Hannity: The same president who insists the U.S. is not a Christian nation is now calling us a Muslim nation.

Really, it’s embarrassing just to mention your name any more, at least for me. I cannot do it without snorting my Pepsi up my nose and making a big mess all over my computer screen. 

A word on Nat Turner. Who is Nat Turner you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked that because I didn’t know about this fine human being until Starshine, a commenter on WillPen’s blog left a link to a Daily KOS article on Turner. Seems that Turner, a self-avowed white nationalist and white supremacist from North Bergen, New Jersey has been arrested for “asking his audience to kill two elected officials and an official from a regulatory agency.”  The article by Pavlov Dog reveals that Capitol police Chief Michael J. Fallon said that “Mr. Turner’s comments are above and beyond the threshold of free speech . . . He is inciting others through his website to commit acts of violence and has created fear and alarm. He should be held accountable for his conduct.” The offending comments? Get a load of this: 

“It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally,” the blog stated. “These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die . . . If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they’re going to get uppity with us about this; I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down too.”  

You don’t say? That just warms the cockles of my heart. Except for the whole killing and putting people down with bulletss part. Unless I’m much mistaken, those are the words a terrorist would use, and let’s not soften it with the modifier domestic. A terrorist is a terrorist, and adding the word domestic does not alter that fact, nor does it make the rhetoric less sinister. Mr. Turner is exactly where he deserves to be. Good one on Chief Fallon.

And to be fair, I must not forget the Governator (yes, I do realize that Governator is what most people call Arnold Schwarzenegger; however, I have been calling Palin this since the election; you see, not matter what, she’ll be back). No matter how much I may want to ignore the aspiring presidential candidate and former beauty queen, I must not, for it seems that some on the far right side of sanity still regard her as charismatic, charming, and a real contender for 2012 (oh yes, pleez……….). The Mudflats had a glorious article on the Governator that I must share with you: “‘Screw Political Correctness.” Sarah Palin In Her Own Words.” Trust me, you do not want to miss this wonderfully insightful piece.

Sky of blue, and sea if green, in our yellow submarine

And now, since I have spent the better part of the evening consorting with the other side, I will cleanse my palate with an aperitif of the eloquent Keith Olbermann, whose insights are always spot on, especially when it comes to Rupert Murdoch’s gang:

 

 

As always, there will be more later. Peace.

I just wanted to say for the record that I have been trying to fix the screwed up formatting in this blog for the last four hours. I have no idea what I did, or how I did it, but everytime I read it, sentences are moved around, some starting in the middle, the first paragraph ending up after my signature. I don’t know what the hell was/is going on, the wine, the lack of carbon dioxide to my brain . . . whatever. Just let me know if things are seriously out of whack when you read it because I can’t look at it one more time.

“Most people do not consider dawn to be an attractive experience – unless they are still up.” ~ Ellen Goodman

woman-sleeping-by-sandor-liezen-mayer-1867 

 “Woman Sleeping” by Sándor Liezen-Mayer (1867)

“The worse thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s 5 a.m. Do you know where your good night’s sleep has gone?

sleeping-on-keyboardOkay, so it’s been one of those nights. I fell asleep relatively early for me, around 12:30, but then I woke up around 1:30 and haven’t been able to recapture the bliss of a good night’s sleep since. I finally decided at 5:30 to get up and make myself some tea and begin my day by reading some regular blogs. I also thought that if I went ahead and began today’s post that I might be able to lull myself to sleep with the rhythmic sound of the keyboard.

What I did achieve was waking up Corey around 5:45 who wanted to know what I was doing. Nothing. Go back to sleep. And he promptly did.

I hate nights like these. I dose for a few minutes, then toss and turn, but never manage to get into REM. I listened to the sound of the fan, the sound of the toads, the sound of the birds. I let the dogs out twice (they were very confused as they normally only go out once around 3 a.m.). The reality is that I haven’t actually slept through the night since Alexis was born, but I do know how to stumble out to the dining room to let the dogs out (Shakes initiates it) and then still go back to sleep.

Not this morning, though. There was no sleep for this woman. Of course, that didn’t keep Shakes from curling into my side and snoring loudly.

When I let the dogs out, it was lovely outside: cool air, the sounds of nearby birdsong drifting in. Of course, it’s supposed to get up to 91° today. With any luck, I’ll be able to sleep later this morning for little while at least.

I read a post on Maureen’s blog (White Orchid), and she’s getting snow. Of course, she’s in Australia, so her seasons are the opposite of our seasons. With 91° expected here, I think that I might actually enjoy some snow. It’s like I said, we just don’t get much of a spring, which is unfortunate because I love spring.

“For the economy I want workers and consumers to have control over their own economic lives. I want everyone to have fair conditions that fully utilize their talents and potentials.” ~ Michael Albert 

golden-books-tugboat
Classic Golden Book: Scuffy the Tugboat

That would be a nice change for him, for all of us, actually.  But I don’t want to get ahead of myself (ourselves?). Corey is being cautious as ever. Can’t say that I blame him though.

“With the changing economy, no one has lifetime employment. But community college provide lifetime employability.”  ~ Barack Obama

After all of my anticipation yesterday, I was too tired to watch Law & Order Criminal Intent. Good thing that it’s recorded. I had never planned to watch it live. I prefer to watch the recorded show so that I can speed through all of the commercials. In particular, all of the car commercials.

It seems that every car company in existence is offering incredible deals, which really bites when you need a car but cannot possibly purchase one. I was just reading that used car prices are down by about 17 percent, 9 percent since January of this year (Consumer Price Index). New car prices have dropped about 3 percent. Great for consumers, bad for car companies.

In fact, the article was discussing those things that have gotten cheaper versus those items that have gotten more expensive since last year. The price drops are pretty predictable: homes, cars, electronics, airfares, alternative energy, toys, and clothing. Prices are on the rise for food, medical care, prescription drugs, college tuition, gasoline, garbage collection (huh?), and beer (too funny) (http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/7-things-getting-cheaper-7-that-are-not.aspx?Gt1=33009?slide-number=1).

So let me get this straight. The things that we really need (except for beer) are getting more expensive. The things that we might like to have but don’t need to survive are getting less expensive. Makes perfect sense.

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.” ~ Pindar

Now I have to take exception with another article that I read on MSN Money: “Gift Cards Are Not Gifts,” in which  the contention is that giving someone a gift card is a faux pas because gift cards are not truly gifts . I believe that this statement can be both true and false.(http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/FindDealsOnline/GiftCardsAreNotGifts.aspx)

rack-of-gift-cardsFor example, someone who doesn’t have a clue about shopping and doesn’t particularly care about personalizing usually relies on gift cards. This can be seen as being lazy, or it can be viewed as better than nothing, particularly when you know that the card came from one of those all-purpose gift card racks at a convenience store.

“Hey look. One-stop shopping, and I can get my beer, too.”

Getting a gift card from a significant other: big no-no. Reeks of ‘I asked someone to pick this up for me because I just didn’t want to take the time to put any thought into a special present for you.’ Can you imagine being presented with a gift card to a jewelry store instead of the jewelry? Ooh. Not good. Kind of like getting a toaster on Mother’s Day.

And let’s face it. What is a five-year-old going to do with a gift card? Get her a talking book so that she can learn to appreciate books from an early age.

However, I honestly believe that there are several situations in which buying a gift card for someone is better than buying a gift. Big example: teenagers. Try buying a shirt for a teenager. Chances are very good that unless said teenager was with you during purchase, the t-shirt will never be worn. You will receive a half-hearted thanks, and the t-shirt will be consigned to the never going to wear pile.

Buying a gift card for a teenager is truly akin to giving him or her money, but the gift card is more responsible. Money will be frittered away in the late-night drive through at McDonald’s or Taco Bell, but a gift card to a store that you know they like and can use is a different story. And trust me, a gift card from a favorite store will get you a big smile and a sincere thank you. If nothing else, a gift card from Target is multi-purpose: consider make-up, cd’s, dvd’s, doo-dads for the car . . . you get the picture.

Another instance when a gift card would be a good idea is you have an elderly person for whom you are buying. Consider a gift card to a grocery store or a gift certificate to a cleaning service or a service that does yard work or washes windows. Elderly relatives do not want another vase, nor do they really need a box of chocolates because chances are they are on some kind of regimented diet. But I advise the gift card to the grocery store with a caveat: offer to drive them. Then you can unload the groceries, and the gift card becomes more personal.

Another person who will appreciate a gift card is a bibliophile like myself. Personally, I would much rather have a gift card to Barnes & Noble than just about anything else from people who do not know me well. With that little piece of plastic in my hand, I can go to the bargain book shelves and peruse for hours, or I can purchase that new title that I’ve been anticipating.

A particularly good gift card for someone who is starting out in the workforce is a gas gift card. Chances are good that this person has not factored in the cost of commuting yet and will be surprised when the gas gauge begins to drift towards E faster than usual.

A good gift card for a co-worker is one for a restaurant that you know he or she likes, or, as in my case, to Starbucks. One year a sales rep gave me a gift card to Starbucks, and she made me happy for a week. If she had given me a box of imported cookies or chocolate, I would have felt compelled to share them and to eat them.

“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think, though, that that pretty much exhausts the justifiable situations for giving a gift card. In situations with immediate family members, I take a lot of time and care in selecting presents that are personalized. Sometimes I’ll buy a frame and insert one of my better photographs. My mother-in-law has received a few of these, and she really likes them.

Other good personalized presents include favorite things like gourmet hot chocolate mix for Eamonn, who can’t get enough of the stuff in the winter. Or socks, yes socks, for Brett, who seems to eat them because they disappear so fast. All of my children look forward to their package of new underwear and socks at Christmas. Go figure.

But really, it’s the presents that are made or bought with the heart that count the most. The first year that Corey and I were together, I made him a decorated journal. I used to do this for special occasions for people. I take a big blank journal, and then I paste in pictures that I have collected out of magazines, postcards, cards, quotes that I have typed, photographs—things that remind me of that person.

cigar-boxWhenever I come across an interesting-looking picture in a magazine, I’ll cut it out for future books, and I usually store my pictures in old cigar boxes, or if those are overflowing, I find larger decorated boxes, especially for the larger pictures. I have a lot of images from my collages stored in these boxes as well.

It’s actually a pretty labor intensive project, but it is so rewarding once I have finished it and given it to the person for whom I have made it.  I made one for my therapist when she had her first child. I made one for Alexis when she graduated from high school. I plan to make one each for Eamonn and Brett for their graduations. Presents such as these finished books cannot be found in any store, and, I hope, they reflect all of the love that I feel for that person. 

The bitter irony of this is that I began making my decorated books years before scrap booking was a verb in the lexicon of arts and crafts. My therapist asked me if I thought that there was money to be made in such an endeavor, and I told her that I didn’t really think so since the decorated journals were so personalized. Well, we all know how wrong I was about that. I could have been on the forefront of a new wave. Oh well. It’s really just as well. I probably couldn’t handle all of the fame.

On that note, more later. Peace.